Sunday, November 4, 2012

Titan Supercomputer

The U.S. Department of Energy has just recently launched its top new supercomputer last month, which raises the bar for computing speed to a whole new level.  The U.S. has been competing against Japan, China, and Germany for the past three years to have the fastest and most efficient supercomputer.  With the launch of the U.S. DOE’s Titan supercomputer, they have created the fastest supercomputer on the planet.  This title does not only give the United States brownie points, but helps our country’s national security and economic capability.  Titan can perform at 20 petaflops, or make 20 quadrillion calculations each second, and outperforms the fastest supercomputer to date by four petaflops.  Titan outperforms the DOE’s previous advancement, called Jaguar, by ten times and is five times more energy-efficient.  These supercomputers do cost a sufficient amount of money in energy costs and the race to continuously produce a faster supercomputer with more petaflops, requiring more energy, does not necessarily have a cap.  By 2016 the Department of Energy hopes to upgrade Titan to its new successor that reaches 200 petaflops.
I believe that Titan is a beneficial investment for the United States Department of Energy to make.  Supercomputers help to be able to study the world around us.  They experiment through simulation to study things that we can’t physically experiment.  The Jaguar supercomputer, capable of 2.3 petaflops, runs 18,000 times faster than the fastest PC on the market and has made experiments of medicine, weather, and new forms of energy possible.  Through simulation, Jaguar studies how to recertify aging nuclear power plants and how to create newer and more efficient plants.  It shrinks research that would’ve taken months or years to only a matter of days.  If Jaguar can do all of this and Titan has ten times its performance level, it can be concurred that Titan has beneficial advancements to come.  Titan is also five times more energy efficient than Jaguar which is definitely an advantage.  The supercomputers that are currently both operating and being invented use as much energy as a small town.  As these new supercomputers are invented, it only makes them that more appealing when they are using less energy as well.

According to Emi Kolawole’s article, “Oak Ridge and NVIDIA unveil Titan supercomputer,” “In addition to being faster and more efficient, Titan is the same size as its predecessor.  Titan, like Jaguar, occupies a space roughly the size of a basketball court, with each stack approximately the size of a household kitchen refrigerator.”  Titan is faster than Jaguar, more energy efficient, and does not take up more room that Jaguar did.  Titan will be used for similar experimental purposes that Jaguar performed; however, it will be able to experiment faster and reach deeper, more informing conclusions than Jaguar did by using less energy.  Along with discovery, Titan will also be used as a stepping stone for further development of supercomputers to come in the future.  I think Titan is a great advancement in supercomputer technology not because it outperforms all other supercomputers on earth and names the U.S. number one, but because of what it can do for our country.  Titan can help reduce the size of our carbon footprint through nuclear power research and development.  It will aid in the study and discovery of medicines and weather patterns.  Ultimately, it will be able to make new conclusions that haven’t been able to be made in the past and will do it in much less of a time period.  Titan, along with all other supercomputers, may be costly, but the effects and information that come out of these systems is most definitely beneficial and worth the cost.

Below is a video introducing the Titan supercomputer, how it works, and its components.


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